CODEC, The Big Read, #CNM10, #CMN10, #CMN11

Lots of feedback from a post by ‘The Church Mouse’ in regards to #cmn10 indicating that there was little on new media at the conference… I missed the original post as I was busy talking to another group who are working with others who need some persuasion in using ‘new media’ – those in Higher Education!  There was a fair bit of “New Media” (whatever that may be these days), it just wasn’t central stage, but believe me, after giving this talk, I have never been so in demand to be spoken to s0 the interest is definitely there. I also pushed hard getting Twitter into the conference, using pre-advertising of the hashtag #cmn10, and from last year, when we had around 6 people tweeting, this year we had around 40, including at least 10 who were trying for the first time!  Here’s my summary of the conference… and I am looking forward to preparing for MediaLit which is all next week – and then onto The Big Read!

Here is Pete Phillips reply to the Church Mouse:

“But I wasn’t there and nor was Mouse.  I have to say that I was able to pick up a new media vibe from the Conference through receiving lots of tweets about what was happening (several saying that CODEC seemed to get a good few mentions during the Conference).  If you’re interested, Bex Lewis kept a record of the tweets made with the #cmn10 hashtag here:  Don’t you just love the name ‘twapperkeeper’?

Although CODEC wasn’t officially there, Andrew Graystone, CMN Chair, is a good friend of CODEC and is on our Steering Group.  Andrew is working with us next week on our Media training event for clergy and Christian professionals (Medialit).  And the indefatigable Bex Lewis (a polymath, no less) was there and fielding some questions about CODEC and the work we are doing – more on Bex below.

Having said all that, certainly, we’d be more than happy to talk with CMN about #cmn11 and increase our involvement in this important conference.  It is important to push into new areas of thinking (and yes, I think there is a difference between traditional media and new media) – cloud networking, the implications of new technology and the age of distraction, the instantaneous nature of contemporary news media, and the democratization of reporting are key factors of how the media engages with the contemporary world.  I heard of the West Cumbria shootings on Twitter long before the BBC had picked it up.

And talking of the news, Mouse says I can plug some of what CODEC are doing at the moment – so briefly…

Bex Lewis and the Big Read

While I’m posting, Bex Lewis is starting work with us from July 1st for 2.5 days a week based at Premier Christian Media in Pimlico, London.  Bex is going to working with a number of agencies (Premier, SPCK, Biblefresh, Methodist Church, and others) to develop a national version of The Big Read – an initiative launched by Bishop Tom Wright in the NE of England last year.  Watch this space for lots more in preparation for Lent 2011.”

There’s lots more exciting things on, so keep an eye on Pete’s blog too!

"Quoted" for #cmn10 in the Guardian

“A cloud wept and then departed from The Church and media conference 2010 in Swanwick last week, but given the conference’s theme – “Voices from the Cloud” – it seemed appropriate. Over the course of the three day conference in Derbyshire BBC broadcasters, TV and film producers, freelancers and church media people were asked how voices of faith and integrity could make themselves heard among a maelstrom of stories.”

Read the full article by Karen Burke, which finishes: “So, “What are the voices in the cloud saying to us as a community?” Andrew Graystone, conference host, asked us as it drew to a close. As I was leaving, I heard someone say that everything has speeded up but the Christian response.” (That would be me, so quoted, but not by name…!). Read further material from #cmn10.

Twitter @ The MediaNet

Guest Post: Sam Pratt

“I upgraded my naff LG phone to a shiny new Samsung Android the other week and got very excited over the Twitter application. I wasn’t bothered about the actual phone bit of my new toy! As a Twitter lover, nothing pleased me more than being able to use the social media giant properly in all its glory, especially when I got accepted to attend the MediaNet academy at the Church and Media Conference in Swanwick. Being a media conference, the majority kept to their stereotype by bringing their netbooks, iPhones and other technical gadgets to keep the outside world and each other in touch of what they were doing. I think Twitter is a great way to interact and get the most out of a large event such as the Church and Media conference because you can share information, meet people and generally (to use an old phrase) ‘get the low down’ on everybody else.

I myself being utterly useless at remembering the basics of overnight travelling, looked in my luggage when I got there and realised I left my shampoo at home. Typical. Even though I’m a guy, having clean hair is quite important to me! So instead of feeling sorry for myself and since I didn’t have any time to do a recce of the local shops I did what my Scout leader always tells me in tough times “Buff up Sam!”- such a nice bloke. I Tweeted my dilemma using the conference hashtag #cmn10. Soon after I got a query from another delegate at the conference asking whether I had sorted out my #conferencecrisis as she had spare shampoo! Delighted at this tweet I arranged a time to meet in the bar to exchange business cards and mutual love for coconut fragrance (trust me, I’m straight)

In the academy we were filming outside in pouring rain when all the delegates came out for lunch and started to take pictures of us and then posted them on Twitter proclaiming our bravery for the world to see. Although this is very common for people to Tweet pictures of people or events they see, is it an invasion of our privacy? Probably, but we didn’t care, the thought of hard work being recognized on the World Wide Web was quite encouraging. The girls in my group didn’t know a thing about Twitter and found it all more interesting since they were broadcasted on the internet.

So all in all, my experiment on the power of social media has exceeded my expectations because I made new friends through unusual circumstances- social media still is very social.”

See what Sam & the MediaNet video crew produced:

#cmn10, notes, day 3

The final day of the conference, a few rough notes!


ChurchAds – new campaign.


Tim Levell, Editor Blue Peter. (Lots of news experience)

Start off – agree none of our faiths represented well enough (is this like always asking for more sweets). Fears that Christian characters will all be weird! In big crises, etc. everyone goes to the big charities – e.g. Oxfam.

Inayat Bunglawala, Muslim Council of Britain

Annoying – can Shariah law and British law work together? Archbishop Canterbury – said one thing, and others in the media re-represent it as more controversial, etc. than it was – and have gone off on a tangent, and does affect the consciousness of people! Take effort to understand what people are actually saying! More positive stories – e.g. Eastenders (sexual orientation rarely discussed in Muslim circles). Shift to digital media – terrestrial channels no longer have a captive audience – people are voting with their feet – if they’re not getting the news they want they have so many other avenues to go to.. Acres of coverage of extremist Muslim groups – so frustrating as media coverage is so unbalanced (can get some balance via digital media) … e.g. when he was growing up the N Ireland coverage – affects his attitudes. Now 50% Brits associate Islam with terrorism..

Harmander Singh, Sikhs in England

‘Shy & Retiring types’ – tend to be rather insular. More in UK than census shown. Easily identifiable by turbans – and media tends to seize upon photos, etc. that tell a story that’s not there… not helpful to the community which gets the wrong label. Use languages in the media with care – e.g. not all Sikh murders are honour killings… Limits to what can be done… Are there any serious characters? Check out Sikhs in the City – showed ‘real’ – but so occasional – see as a novelty…

Chris Cole, Cross Rhythms + Europe Director God TV

Simon Mayo pushed to the edge & an anti-Christian theme in comedy, etc. Media driven by the sensational.. Power of impact on the society – we know it’s a soap, BUT impacts on society. What Christian would you like to see on screen – many Christians are just very functional/normal people – but never see them on TV. We need role models that truly reflect what our nation is built on. As a nation, we don’t know what we’re standing on in terms of values (Judeo-Christian?). Church in UK going through a reformation itself – becoming more about community interaction. Cross Rhythms – help the church engage. E.g. Street Pastors. Be great to see mainstream media pick up on moer positive stories…

Christina Rees & Aaqil Ahmed (BBC Head of Religion & Ethics)

…See Tweetstream… (sorry, I was only half-listening, I was summarising the entire conference in 3 minutes – I took it to 3 pages, and then back down to one!)


A great production, as per usual, this time on the theme of the World Cup.  I’m trying to track it down online, as I was finishing off the plenary!


Commenced with a summary from Russ Bravo (that ‘story’: the need to tell them and the need to train others to tell them well was the key focus of the conference), and from me.

We’re stronger together, still lot of reluctance with social media, MediaNet – facilitate media training/access in, Media finds it like catching jelly in a net – how improve that? Stop having the old debates (local isn’t dying, it’s changing); if the BBC isn’t doing something – we do it – and if Stop whinging, but write and congratulate the great programmes (& offer help for future)

Suggestion for next year – facilitating increased opportunities for networking; more social media being used, more workshops – e.g. Sound_Mike – podcasting. Wider range of media – nothing from media/print press. Conference which is a must for any senior media CEO to attend. (resource issue).  What resources does CMN already have? Hear hear for workshops!

The Nativity – vulnerability in his story about faith!

The Journey of a Hashtag: Getting #cmn10 on Twitter

Last year, at the Church and Media Conference, I was attempted to get a Twitter stream going, but there was very few of us who understood the potential and were engaging, I’d say around 6 of us. This year, I was determined that Twitter was going to make a stronger appearance at the conference! For years the Conference has been the ‘Churches’ Media Conference’, but this year was a change of name to the Church and Media Network Conference – the event, however, was advertised on Facebook as the Churches’ Media Conference, but still – I could work with that! I decided that #cmn10 would make a good hashtag, advertised it on Facebook, got responses ranging from ‘what’s a hashtag’ to some people tweeting with the hashtag!

I contacted the organisers of the event and asked them to publicise the hashtag #cmn10, which they did via the regular emails, both from the conference, and I think through the MediaNet, and the information was also in the conference programme (although it was referred to as a feed rather than a hashtag, but no matter). I then went into ‘What the Hashtag‘ and set up a definition (and collected the stats afterwards here):

The first day of the conference, a lighting strike had taken out the internet/wi-fi in the building, although a few of us die-hards who could manage to get a 3G signal on our phones were able to Tweet. On the second day, however, with some (albeit slow) internet connection restored, the hashtag was republicised from the front, and with a number who were prepared to utilise their previously neglected Twitter accounts after the talk I gave on the Monday, the Tweetstream started to make sense!

Whilst at the event I wanted to find a way of keeping hold of all the tweets from #cmn10, and ‘TwapperKeeper‘ seemed to work fine (there’s a slight time-lag on it, but it collected all the previous tweets). At 21:05, we’re on 396 Tweets, with around 40 people contributing to the debates (so a real number up from last year), and a desire from others to get into it when they get home… I think that’s a great result!

I was really pleased to hear from @Sound_Mike that he’d decided that the Tweetstream offered a different layer which enriched the conference for him, something I have always found! Some think that it detracts attention from the speakers, but I feel that it enables a fuller engagement (albeit that you may miss the odd bit of information!). I have found that a build up to an event via social media (often most easily Twitter) allows delegates and themes to emerge before the conference. Once at the conference you can meet those you have previously met in the online space (emphasis online/offline, not virtual/real!) and continue the conversations face-to-face… and then after the conference we can continue the conversation. This conference doesn’t need to be just a once-a-year event any more – we can continue the conversations online!!

Around halfway through the conference, in between sessions, the production team projected a search from the Twitter app onto the screen, but this had a terrible time lag, and wasn’t picking up users, so I suggested that we use Twitterfall, and this worked much much better!

Now to think about next year’s event, for which we already have a hashtag: #cmn11. We are discussing getting a 3rd screen which will have the Twitterfall on consistently throughout the conference, and the event can be advertised much more widely via social media. A theme coming through the conference is that everyone needs to engage with social media, and therefore the organisers need to be ensuring that it’s being used well, so that it’s use can be encouraged – and I was very chuffed in talking to Andrew Graystone to hear that the Church and Media Network is planning on workshops to enable people to use social media, and my name is in the frame for some of those – yeah, let me at it, that’s what I want this business too… I just need to get past the marking so I can concentrate on it!

Summarising #cmn10

Ideas for this talk have been circulating since Andrew asked me to sum up the conference in 3 minutes, but really only had the last hour to put together 48 hours of an awesome conference!

Last time on this stage, was part of the Academy webstream…

Themes that are coming out of this conference, several of which I’ve heard in previous years, summarised well on Twitter “fear of dialogue with your audience, fear of new technology, demise of the local…”, and the one that echoed most with me, was that everything has sped up except the Christian response.

Last year I could feel a lot of resistance to the idea of having to engage with social media, but this year, digital literacy is very much on the agenda, and people have been asking for help in engaging in social media. A theme echoing across several talks was that our responses to need to be genuine, authentic, honest, apologetic where appropriate, and that we can’t control what the outcomes of that will be.

I’ve kept hearing that ‘the media offers an unbalanced view’. Before, it was hard to get a response out there, but with social media there is a right to reply there, but only if you are prepared to ENGAGE on an ongoing basis (not just when there is a crisis). Always remember, there’s not a guaranteed ROI, there’s no guaranteed outcome, but you need to be in the discussions… we need to be where the people are, and I think we know, for many (not all), that’s Facebook!

We need to understand our audience so we can ENGAGE with them… as with teaching – not necessarily about giving them what they want – but what they need… but if you don’t understand them, how can you talk to them?! Listen to them, and be part of their communities. We’ve heard that the media is both the reflector and creator of culture, if we’re not in it, how can we be one of the creators?

Those of us who are in social media, need to enable others to make those working in religion visible, so you are the person that the media approach. We’ve heard several times people saying the media choose their go-to people and the sensationalism – can you make yourself this go to person? As a former Guide: “Be Prepared”! People are not necessarily going to come to us, so we need to be prepared to go to them!!

Some of the characteristics we need to be involved in modern day media: be authentic, be passionate, see it as a relationship, be accessible, be flexible, immediacy (you may have noticed Tweets & blogs are speeding out of this room mid-talk), be open (avoid labelling), be transparent, listen, appreciate access to ‘information’ and expect convergence.. and be persistent – very chuffed to see more of Twitter this time (handful of us last year, around 40 this year + some from outside) – doesn’t just happen, pre-promote the hashtag, next year Twitterfall!

As a historian, we emphasise the idea of continuity and change, and at the end of the day people are still people, they like the familiar, and social media needs to draw on the expertise that we already have – e.g. blogs, we need quality journalism for balance! The tools they keep changing, but if we always bear in mind that they can provide solutions to specific needs, rather than prioritising the tools, we can make the most of them.

We need to be different, we need to see the opportunities first, approach with positivity, not negativity and see things change.. A great tweet earlier: “Are we prepared to change, or are we going to carry on whinging?” We need to learn how to, and I’m keen to see more practical workshops and sessions in which we can share expertise … and on that note, it’s not too late to sign up for MediaLit in Durham, 21st-26th June, tutors include Andrew & I …